Emergency work on a major water main along the Ville-Marie tunnel between Atwater Avenue and Guy Street is set to start Thursday.
Montreal’s head of the water and infrastructure department Sylvain Ouellet says the deteriorating pipe provides water to 1.2 million people, as well as all the major hospitals in the downtown core.
The city first discovered the problem in July.
After further investigation, crews were able to identify that it was, in fact, a major problem, resulting in the seven-foot-tall pipe being shut off.
Water for the area has since been circulating via three previously existing smaller pipes in a parallel system.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says the work is necessary, and if it isn’t completed in a timely matter the pipe could explode.
“There could be huge flooding in the Tunnel Ville-Marie, the metro as well, so of course we don’t want to have that scenario,” she says.
She acknowledged the fact that repairs must be done quickly with crews working 24/7.
There is no exact completion date, but the repair job is expected to last until June 2020.
Both Plante and Ouellet agree the city wants to make sure the pipe is ready for summer 2020, when “the need for water is even more important,” says Plante.
Traffic detours have been put in place to help drivers navigate around the work site.
One lane will be open on de la Cathédrale Street between St-Jacques and Notre-Dame streets.
St-Antoine Street will be reduced to one or two lanes between Guy Street and Atwater Avenue depending on the phase of the work.
Georges-Vanier Boulevard’s northbound lanes will be completely closed between St-Jacques and St-Antoine streets. The boulevard’s southbound section will be closed between Baile and St-Antoine streets.
As a result, the city said mitigation efforts will be put in place to ease traffic headaches. This includes police officers to direct traffic and changing the synchronization of stop lights in the area.
— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise